Friday, October 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Napkin Ring Kids' Craft

When my now-teen son was younger, we set out to make an adorably sweet Thanksgiving craft for the holiday dinner table. I had these little turkey napkin rings in mind. Even though it sounded great in my mind, in reality it ended in tears. My then-4-year-old found the turkeys tough to make and gave up (post-tantrum). The result? I made the turkey craft myself- we needed something festive for the dinner table.
Holiday art

This napkin ring art activity is much easier. Your preschooler can pick one (or all) of these four projects to try. Instead of getting a perfectly crafted Thanksgiving table adornment, these are process-based activities. Even though this artsy adventure is more about exploring than making “something,” the cardboard rings still come out cute enough to add to your Thanksgiving place settings. They’ve got that fall color scheme going on and showcase your little artist’s creativity. As a bonus they are fab fine motor activities!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        A cardboard paper towel tube

·        Tempera paint in fall colors – yellow, red, orange, brown

·        Scissors

·        Craft feathers

·        Gauze

·        Clear drying school glue

·        Thin ribbon

·        Wax paper

·        Tissue paper

·        A paintbrush
Holiday crafts

Here’s What to Do:

For all four options, cut the cardboard tube into pieces that are two to three inches long.
Kids' crafts

Option 1- Craft feather/Tissue Paper

1.     Tear fall colors of tissue paper apart into dime-sized pieces.
Fall colors

2.     Pour a golf ball-sized pool of glue onto the wax paper.
Craft glue

3.     Paint the glue over the outside of a cardboard tube segment.
Cardboard art

4.     Collage the tissue on top of the glue. Your child can dip her fingers into the glue to smooth down the tissue, make it stick and add a hint of shine.
Collage crafts

5.     Press a craft feather to the front of the napkin ring.
Holiday crafts

Option 2- Finger Prints

1.     Pour pools of the tempera paint onto wax paper.
Pools paint

2.     Dip your child’s finger into the paint. She can press dots onto the tube.
Finger paints

3.     Repeat with different colors.
Kids' paint

Option 3- Rolling Paint

You know the messy pools of paint that are left over from the fingerprint napkin rings? Have your child roll a fresh cardboard tube piece through them. That’s it!
Paint printKids' art

Option 4 – Gauze Print with Ribbons

1.     Dab a piece of crumbled gauze in the paint.
Paint crafts

2.     Press the gauze onto the cardboard for a textured print.

3.     Cut two pieces of thin ribbon.

4.     Glue one piece of ribbon to the top and the other to the bottom of the tube segment.

Let the rings dry and set your Thanksgiving table!

Are you looking for more holiday crafts? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas galore!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Creativity and Your Child: 7 Ways to Amp Up Imagination

Creativity. It’s a trait that we, as adults, think of as being the stuff that children are made of. With a seemingly boundless ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, our children often embody imagination. I remember being 4- or 5-years-old and desperately wanting to keep a refrigerator box. It was sitting in the middle of the living room and my mother was getting ready to drag it to the curb. I begged and pleaded to keep it. She caved, only under the condition that I provide her with 20 different ways to use the box.
Kids create

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With the creativity that only a child seems to have, I turned that box into 20 different rocket ships, cars, trains, boats and other items that I’ve long forgotten. So, if you’re remembering your own childhood creativity, but thinking, “Hmm, why don’t my kids have that same spark?” you aren’t alone. I’m not saying that your child isn’t creative. I’m saying that she may not show it off. Even though children may seem more imaginative than adults, some of them need help drawing it out.

It’s in there. All the creativity of childhood is in your kiddo. While she might not put it on display, have public conversations with her imaginary princess friend, paint like a pint-sized Picasso or whirl around the living room dancing to the beat of the music that she’s creating with her hand-made instruments, you can help her to let loose and set her creative-self free!

1.     Set up an art buffet.  When my son was two I went back to work, teaching kids at an art museum. One of my favorite activities to do with them was to set up an “art buffet” in our studio. I lined the table with everything from oil pastels to glitter and glue. Being able to pick and choose from an array of artsy items always seemed to do something to ignite the kids’ creativity. Give your child a piece of cardboard and let her layer on the different materials, trying a variety of processes and creating a mixed-media artwork that is entirely unique.
Process activity

2.     Use a worksheet. What??? A worksheet? If you’re about to ask why I would suggest this when worksheets seem to be the opposite of creativity, start thinking out of the box. No one ever said that it’s mandatory for your child to color in the lines – or, for that matter, color at all. Switch things up and get her to think about how she can create on her coloring sheet without simply coloring. For example, instead of coloring in a picture of an apple, she can piece together a patchwork collage of tissue paper and fabric on it.

3.     Play music. And not just when you think she should sing or dance. Play a tune when she paints, draws or plays in her pretend kitchen. Don’t just stick to the same old songs. Pick different types of music from around the world or songs that elicit different emotions.

4.     Use a box. Hey, it worked for me. Give your child a box, and that’s it. You’ve already brought out the mega materials during the art buffet. Put the sequins, paints, colorful duct tape and animal print paper away. Give her a box and ask her what she can make it into. She doesn’t have to physically make the box into anything that remotely resembles a real object. Let her use her imagination to “see” it as something else.

5.     Combine activities. Art doesn’t stop at a crayon and a piece of paper. It extends into science, literacy and all kinds of other subject matter. Paint with soap that you’ve heated as part of a science experiment or have her create her own book instead of always reading the same ones to her.
Creative explore

6.     Get silly. Some children feel shy or uncomfortable about expressing creativity. If your child is rather reserved, help her to break out of her shell by getting silly in an imaginative way. Dress up in costumes together, dance like you’re walking through mud or create your own family giggle opera.

7.     Explore creativity together. Did you notice that number six included ideas to try with your child? Free yourself, and get creative together. Not only will this up the comfort level for your child, but it can help you to relax, de-stress get nostalgic as you feel what it’s like to be a child all over again!

Are you looking for a few process-based art options to try out with your creative kid? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Candied Yam Marshmallow Casserole S'mores

Candied yam marshmallow s’mores? If you just made a face and thought, “Seriously?” you aren’t alone. When I started thinking about this little Thanksgiving leftovers gem I decided to talk it through with someone who can actually cook well (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – even though I highly enjoy the creative aspect of cooking, I’m not exactly a chef).

Marshmallow casserole
So, I brought the super-sweet s’mores idea to my mom. She just shook her head and mumbled something along the lines of, “Who would eat that?” Well, I would (and I did!). And my son (like many other kids) would. This isn’t a fine dining recipe, and adults may cringe at the thought of it. But, at its most basic it’s akin to a deconstructed sweet potato (or rather, yam) pie. Think about it, the graham crackers are like the graham crust, then you’ve got the yams that are like sweet potatoes, splash in some cinnamon, mix in creamy marshmallows and top with some white chocolate. It’s a pie in sandwich form!

If you’re wondering what to do differently with those Thanksgiving Day leftovers, the candied yam s’more may just become a holiday tradition for your kiddos!

Yams Marshmallows
Before you can assemble the s’more, you’ll need one of my favorite turkey day dishes ever: The candied yam marshmallow casserole. When I was little my mom’s friend used to make this sweet holiday treat every year. When she moved away I had to go without it, until I my early 20’s when I realized I could make it myself. Basically, you’ll need to buy a can of yams and follow the directions on the back. It will go something like – mash the yams, mix in a tablespoon of melted butter, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. Throw in a few marshmallows and stir it together. Pour the mix into an oven-safe pan and top with a layer of marshmallows. Pop it out and now-

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Your marshmallow casserole

·        Graham crackers

·        Cranberry sauce – Yes, cranberry sauce.

·        White chocolate

·        Cinnamon

·        Optional: Whipped cream

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Spoon a layer of cranberry sauce onto a graham cracker.

2.     Place a piece of white chocolate on the other graham.

Cranberry Sauce
3.     Warm up the casserole (if it isn’t already). Layer it on over the chocolate. The warmth from the yams will help to melt the chocolate.

Sweet S'mores
4.     Sandwich the s’more together with the cranberry sauce-covered cracker.

5.     Add a melted marshmallow or whipped cream on top.

Thanksgiving treat
6.     Sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon over the s’more.

Kids' Holiday
This isn’t just a treat for the kids. You can also use this is a science and math activity. Talk about the science of cooking. Ask her how and why the marshmallows change as you heat them. Let her measure and mix the ingredients when making the casserole. You can also help her to build fine motor abilities by letting her piece together the post-Thanksgiving s’more stack snack.

Are you looking for more sweet s’mores? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ivory Soap Science and Art

What kid doesn’t love the expanding Ivory soap in the microwave science experiment? If you haven’t done it before, it’s super-easy. Pop a bar of Ivory in the microwave (on a microwave-safe dish) and watch as it grows and molds itself into a cloud of soapy fluff. Every appliance varies, so the amount of time that your bar of soap needs may differ from mine. I started with 30 seconds, but had to add on more time. Be careful when you remove it. The fluffed-out soap is hot. Even though it will start to deflate as it cools, your child needs to wait before she touches it. As a bonus –your microwave will now smell soapy fresh!

Kids' activities
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As if the heated Ivory exploration wasn’t fun enough on its own, we added an art activity to the soapy science. Take the sensory exploration up a notch, add some oil, spill on a few drips of tempera and turn the soap flakes into totally textured finger paints!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        The microwaved bar of Ivory soap

·        Vegetable or olive oil

·        Measuring spoons

·        Bowls or plastic-ware containers

·        Tempera paints in the primary colors (red, yellow and blue)

·        Wax paper

·        Paper

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Break off some of the soap explosion cloud that you’ve created. Put it in a bowl or plastic-ware container.

Soap science
2.     Drizzle a teaspoon or so of vegetable or olive oil onto the soap. P.S. – This step sneaks a math lesson in. Let your child use the measuring spoons to add the oil. The oil will help the mixture to blend. If it still seems sticky, your child can add another teaspoon. If there’s too much, blot the soap with a paper towel.

Kids' art
3.     Spill the paint into the mix. The amount of paint that your child adds depends on how much soap you’re using. The equivalent of a teaspoon full (you probably don’t want to use the teaspoon that you cook with) is a good place to start.

4.     Mix the soap, oil and paint. Your child can use her hands to do this. If needed, add more paint.

Children's art
5.     Pour the chunky soap paint onto a piece of wax paper. This acts as a barrier between the paint and your table.

6.     Repeat the steps for the other two primary colors.

Soap paint

Science art
7.     It’s finger painting time! Your child can blend together the primaries to create secondary colors (orange, green and purple) on a piece of construction paper or card stock.

Kids' art
Don’t worry about your child making “something”. The goal of this art activity is to explore the soap, discover the different textures (it’s bumpy, lumpy, chunky and smooth all at once) and ply with the colors. In the end, your child may just have an abstract masterpiece that rivals any contemporary work displayed in a museum.

Are you looking for more art and science activities? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Popcorn Print Thanksgiving Turkey Art

I firmly believe that the Thanksgiving handprint turkey craft can always use an upgrade. Ok, maybe saying “firmly believe” is a bit excessive. I’m just saying – I have a stockpile of these projects from my son’s preschool and early elementary school years. Somewhere packaged up in my parents’ basement there’s probably a decades-old box that holds my own sweet little handprint turkeys. While in all honestly I have no issue with this project, I’ve been trying to think of other types of turkey crafts.

Paint print
A few days ago we made shaving cream turkeys. With a little bit of paint and a whole lot of shaving cream, paper shapes transformed into textured Thanksgiving art! This time I’m using corn. Corn says “fall” (the season) to me. So, I wanted to incorporate it into this holiday-themed activity.

Instead of a corn stalk, I’m opting for the popping (or rather, popped) kind. Whenever we make popcorn it always seems like half the bowl ends up on the floor. So, before the dog got to it, I rescued some of the popped kernels for this project.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Popcorn

·        Wax paper

·        Tempera paint in fall colors (red, yellow, orange, brown)

·        Construction paper

·        Scissors

·        A marker

·        Clear-drying school glue

·        Googley eyes

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Draw a circle and an oval on a piece of paper. These are the head and body of the turkey. Cut these out.

Kids' math
2.     Glue the oval and the circle onto another piece of paper.

Kids' shapes
3.     Make a turkey face. Your child can glue two googley eyes onto the circle and draw a triangle as a beak.

Children's crafts

Bird art
4.     Pour a few golf ball-sized pools of paint onto the wax paper. The wax paper will keep the paint from sinking through to the table.

Kids' paint
5.     Dip the popped popcorn into the first paint color. Have your child use it to make textured prints around the turkey as feathers.

Paint Print

Kids' paint

Paint art
6.     Repeat this process with other colors.

Print paint

Kids' art
Turkey Paint
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thanksgiving Turkey Art with Sensory Shaving Cream

I have a stockpile of Thanksgiving hand-print turkeys. My son is 13 now, so as you can imagine, he’s done the much beloved project about a zillion times. And while the kiddos love using their tiny little fingers to paint print gobblers, I wanted to do something a little bit different.
Fall crafts

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So, I brought in some shaving cream. I’ve made shaving cream fall trees and even Monet’s Water Lilies. But, this time I’m combining basic geometry and turkey-time with shaving cream paint. This sensory activity is an all-out art experience that lets your child feel and create textures on her paper. Yes, it’s messy – and that’s half (or more than half) of the fun! That said, if you put down a piece of wax paper under your child’s work area (and it can hold the shaving cream too!) you’ll minimize the mess and make clean-up easier.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Shaving cream – I like the plain kind. Some kids (and parents) are sensitive to the scent of the aloe-infused, cologne-filled version.

·        Tempera paint – I used Crayola washable liquid paints, but you can mix in powdered too.

·        Card stock paper – You can also use poster board, or any other thick paper.

·        Scissors

·        A marker
Fall paint

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Draw a circle (for the turkey’s head) and an oval (for the body) onto colored card stock paper. Have your child name the shapes as you point to them. The head should be about the size of the bottom of a soup can. The oval should be two to three times larger. Cut the shapes out.

Kids' geometry

2.     Glue the shapes to a piece of white paper. Ask your child to “put together the puzzle” and line up the circle and the oval so that they make a turkey (minus the feathers).
Paper crafts

Thanksgiving art

3.     Design a face. Cut two circle shapes for the eyes and a triangle for the beak. Glue these to the face. Your child can fold the flat edge of the triangle beak down to make a tab. When she glues down the tab, she’ll create a 3-D nose.

Shape art

4.     Make three or more piles of shaving cream on a piece of wax paper.
Kids' sensory

5.     Mix paint into each pile of shaving cream. Your child can add one color to each dollop or blend a few different ones. For example, have her mix red and yellow to make orange. Let your little artist get messy, and encourage her to use her hands to mix the colors.
Shaving cream

6.     Finger paint the turkey’s feathers with the colorful shaving cream. Your child can dip and dot the bumpy, lumpy ‘paint’ on the paper around the oval body. The more layers that she piles on, the more textured the artwork will have.
Children's paint

fall art
Turkey Crafts

Are you looking for more Thanksgiving activities for your child to try? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!
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